Sunday, October 21, 2012



The UK Communities Ministry at Eland House, London, was stormed yesterday (19 October) by 250 Dale Farm protesters demanding an end to evictions. Angered by minister Eric Pickles' latest round of anti-camping legislation, they scaled the entrance to raise Romani flags and blocked exit from the building for several hours. There were a number of arrests.

The demonstration, held on the anniversary of Britain's biggest-ever eviction, the riot police-led clearance of 80 families from the Dale Farm estate, also marked 50 years of civil rights struggle
by a now much enlarged Roma and Traveller population estimated at 400,000.

Main organizers, the Traveller Solidarity Network, have announced the start of a country-wide campaign to oppose forced dispossessions and support the Roma movement for self-determination, poliferating across Europe in response to the heaviest repression since the 1930s.

The UK, once believed to be a zone of comparative tolerance, has been shown up as a hot-of bed anti-Roma racism and violence. Thousands of established Romani families have been turned off
their own land and recently arriving Roma swept from central city streets.

Frank Gavin, who heads PAAD, a Pavee organization, said in an interview before the demonstration their corib [fight] began in the 1960s with the legendaryoccupation at Cherry Orchard, Dublin. His
uncle of the same name took part, as did the grandparents of Dale Farm residents.

"Cherry Orchard was what you'd call a squat. We didn't own the land," Frank explained. "Half a century later that ground at Dale Farm was purchased and developed and made into a real, happy
community. But they smashed it up all the same."

Pickles told the BBC earlier that he was giving further powers to local authorities to block illegal encampments. He said Travellers attempting to set up their own places without planning permission
would face instant stop notices and daily fines.

"Dale Farm must never be allowed to happen again," the minister commented, while admitting that nothing had been achieved by the 10 million euro operation. He said planning laws had to be enforced but he expected local authorities to provide accommodation where a traditional need could be proved.

The test of that statement will come next month when Basildon Borough Council meets to decide what action to take against families who continue to live on aprivate entrance road to the estate. It must also respond to the fourth planning application in ten years submitted for the building of a mobile-home park for Dale Farm families.

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